Text: So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” — Mark 15: 39
Bible Reading: They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” — Mark 15: 22–39
Our lives are to be a testimony of our childhood in God.
In Mark we read of a Roman centurion at the end of the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. This centurion had been assigned the task of carrying out the crucifixion, together with his soldiers. This man presumably had very little knowledge about the Jewish religion. Owing to Jesus’ conduct during the last hours of His life, the centurion came to the conclusion that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.
Professing the Son of God
Professing Jesus Christ as God’s only begotten Son opens the way to salvation. After all, “whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him” (1 John 4: 15) , and he will be saved (Romans 10: 10).
Our example: Christ
We cannot compare ourselves to Jesus Christ, but we can take Him as our example: let us make our lives a living testimony of our childhood in God.
Accepting the will of God
The centurion was able to observe that Jesus subordinated His will to the will of the Father. The Lord Jesus did not protest the fact that He had to bring the sacrifice. Rather, He even endured mockery and scorn (Mark 15: 16–20), and suffered the torment of the crucifixion without complaint. Let us likewise submit to God’s will, even in times of difficulty.
Praying for others
The centurion heard that the Lord even prayed for His tormentors—including the centurion—even though they had nailed Him to the cross (Luke 23: 34) . May we always feel the longing to bring adoration, praise, petitions, and intercessions to God and to pray for our neighbour!
Remaining connected to God
The centurion was also able to observe how closely Jesus was connected with God, whom He addressed as “Father” (Luke 23: 46). Even in suffering and mortal agony, He did not cease to love God. The words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15: 34), bring to expression His poignant longing for God’s nearness. May misery and suffering never diminish our love for God! Let us always be closely connected with Him.
Caring for others
Even in dying, Jesus showed great concern for others: He addressed the spiritual need of the malefactor and made sure that His mother was taken care of. He assured the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in Paradise (Luke 23: 43). He committed His mother, who would otherwise have had no one to provide for her, to the charge of the beloved disciple (John 19: 26–27). Let us likewise be active in our love for our neighbour and continue to labour in love!
Certainty of the future
With the cry, “It is finished!” (John 19: 30), Jesus announced His certainty that everything had gone precisely in accordance with the plan of God. We likewise know our destination, namely eternal fellowship with the triune God!
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for Good Friday service held on Friday, 3 April 2015 at Midrand Congregation